Packers to Saints: "Bye You"

We'll look at this week like the old March saying: The Pack went into the week as sacrificial lambs (to end the referee lockout) and they can end the week as angry lions, using that game as a launching point as they get set for a rare three game road trip.

The Pack has said all the right things publicly and privately, it would appear. Charles Woodson relived the infamous Tom Brady "tuck rule" game that cost his Raiders a playoff game to help get his teammates in the proper frame of mind for a pivotal game against the Saints. With that long trip looming--including a prime time game at Houston--the Pack cannot afford a 1-3 start, with three of those games having been played at home.

And so we welcome the winless Saints, who are an absolute mess. One of the main storylines entering this season was 'how would they handle their unprecedented offseason? How would they cope with out Mr. Swagger, Sean Payton and his aggressive play calling? Well, we have our answer. Not well. Not well at all. After going 8-0 at home last season, they've lost to the Redskins and Chiefs at home. Last week's collapse vs. Kansas City was really ugly. They cannot stop the run, which is making it hard to stop anything.

The defense under new coordinator and former Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo has been atrocious. Their defensive line is a shell of what it was--maybe since there's no side action in play they've lost their motivation. They're thin at linebacker--down to their third string weak side guy--only free agent, former Falcon Curtis Lofton provides a challenge.

This should be the week the Packers offense awakens. If we don't see three, or four, or five Lambeau leaps on Sunday we've got problems. After dealing with the stout defenses of the 49ers, Bears and Seahawks, they will find a whole lot more open areas in this one. Expect Cedric Benson and the ground game (James Starks' debut?) to attack early. Mike McCarthy mistakenly abandoned the run in the first half Monday night. He won't do that again.

Early success on the ground will open things up for the passing game. Jennings should be close to 100% and Jordy Nelson is due for a big game. McCarthy mentioned how he patterned some plays for Randall Cobb off of what the Saints do with Darren Sproles. This is the kind of matchup where Cobb could make some noise--those linebackers will be hard-pressed to handle him.

Conversely the Packers defense will face a much tougher challenge than they faced Monday night. Youngsters DJ Smith, Jerrion McMillain, Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy will try to keep the wraps on the potentially explosive Saints offense. They'll pay closest attention to Drew Brees' favorite target, tight end Jimmy Graham and Sproles, who amassed 250 total yards in last year's season opener.

But the Saints offense has not looked anything like last season's--kind of like the Packers. Marques Colston is a bit hobbled and is more of a posession guy now. Devery Henderson can stretch the field a bit, but he's inconsistent. Lance Moore is probably their most reliable wide receiver right now. They're only running 29% of the time so far, with Pierre Thomas getting about twice the snaps that Mark Ingram gets.

The signs point to a high scoring affair with the Pack feeding off their anger and the fans, who will be behind them like never before. Expect a raucous crowd--it's the last time they'll see their guys till October 28th.

I think McCarthy and the coaches will have the team ready and I expect the Pack to make a statement.

Packers 37 Saints 24


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